Last year was a record breaker for existing single-family home sales in Maine, according to data released Wednesday by Maine Listings.
“Year-end statistics indicate the highest statewide sales volume and median sales price ever for Maine, reflective of high buyer demand, tight for-sale inventory and strong pricing,” said Tom Cole, president of the Maine Association of Realtors.
For the full year, the number of existing single-family homes sold rose 1.55 percent compared to 2018. The median sales price over the year rose 4.65 percent to $225,000. The median sales price indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and half sold for less.
The numbers were more impressive for last December alone compared to the previous December. Close to 1,500 existing single-family existing homes were sold, up 23 percent from the number sold in December 2018. And the median sales price was up almost 8 percent to $234,000 last December compared to the previous December.
Nationally, existing home sales were up 10.8 percent to 5.54 million last December over the previous year and the prices were up 8 percent to $276,900, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Regionally, sales in the Northeast were up almost 9 percent and the price was up 7.4 percent to $304,400 from December 2018 to December 2019.
Within Maine’s 16 counties, Franklin County experienced the most unit sales in 2019 compared to 2018. Unit sales were up from 448 homes to 507.
Piscataquis County saw the highest price rise of more than 15 percent to $122,750 over the past year.
Knox County saw the biggest losses both in homes sold and its median sales prices. Sales were down 9 percent to 562 homes and the price was down 3.62 percent to $236,125.
Penobscot County saw both solid unit sales and prices. Unit sales were up more than 8 percent to 1,873 in 2019 and prices rose 6.69 percent to $154,600 over the year.
Cumberland County, where inventory is especially tight, saw less than a 1 percent rise in homes sold at 4,086, though prices rose close to 6 percent to $325,000.
Cole said homes continue to be a good investment.
Interest rates continue to be low as does unemployment.
But Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the national association, said finding a home could remain tough for first-time buyers.
“Home sellers are positioned well, but prospective buyers aren’t as fortunate,” he said. “Low inventory remains a problem, with first-time buyers affected the most.”